Friday, 30 January 2015

Imagination, Wannabe Hero or the Real Thing?

A 'regular' blog reader has contacted me via the the Comments Box to ask that I repeat the link to an interview I gave about my poetry to a postgraduate student of multi-media journalism who emailed to ask if I would mind being the subject of a project. Benjamin Richter, a very talented young man, and I have his permission to post the link on my blog. As the blog reader did not give an e-mail address, I am posting it here in the hope that he or she will read today's post. You may need to copy the link into your browser to access:

We all have our own take on dreams, psychiatrists not the least. Many if not most of us like to think of ourselves as - subconsciousuly at least -  painters of our own dreams rather than simply subjected to whatever some proverbial Sandman happens to dish us. Some years ago, someone put to me that the greater part of what we know as wakefulness is but a dream, and the greater part of what we call sleep, a living nightmare. An interesting hypothesis, I thought at the time, and wondered how we would be expected to tell to which mind, body and spirit truly belong...?

I am still wondering…


I've painted pictures
only I will ever get to see,
an alternative reality
to the world surrounding me,
confounding me, creating
an alternative persona to one 
I am meant to be

I have lived in pictures
where only I will ever go,
a surrealist panorama
of the world surrounding me,
confounding me,
creating the kind of person
I 'm not meant to be

Ah, but in every picture
I'll never (really) get to see
a vibrant wood
for a heavily painted tree
or sail an ocean
for expecting its every wave 
to answer to me

I might even mistake
cloud shapes for skylarks,
even missing out 
on nature's other songs 
for starry heavens 
inviting a poet's (wry) take
on life and death

There are no people
in my pictures, smiling,
waving, kissing...
only ghosts, ever gesturing
loss, regret, and pain,
daring me to make the best 
of a sorry world

I archive the pictures
only I will ever get to see
an alternative reality
to all that's surrounding us,
(still) confounding us,
making of us what we will,
we sleepwalkers

Though the memory
exhibit visions of the mind,
imaging what lies
behind the world's chaos
and our confusion,
let's not mistake art for life,
risk missing out

Copyright R. N. Taber 2015

Monday, 12 January 2015

L-I-F-E, Spelling Us Out

Most if not all of us wonder at various stages in our lives just what lies in store for us, and how much of that may be down our own actions whenever giving thanks for the good times or finding excuses for the bad.  

What is the ultimate truth about human life, anyway, but a complex organism of mind, body and spirit embracing all that’s down to us, whomsoever, and whatever it is we like to call ‘fate’ (or God?) to spell out as we go, make sense of as we can, and heed or ignore as we choose.


As a child,
I would play as a child,
cry as a child,
try to make sense
of a world I would never

As a youth,
I explored the passion
of youth,
chasing its gods
through a world I struggled
to defend

As a young man,
I would point a finger
at bigotry,
tracking its origins
through looking glass wars 
all around

Older, little wiser,
I would run the gamut
of rogue truths
draining the body
for demanding centre stage 
of the mind

Mature. Human eyes
reassessing any potential,
fast tracking us 
to dog ears pricking up
at even the slightest breath
of ill wind 

Dead to all intents
and purposes, found wanting
for failing to clear
the table of leftovers
for history to make sense    
of a kind

Copyright R. N. Taber 2015

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Hero in the Line of Fire OR Commentator Extraordinaire

[Update Jan 7, 2018: Today marks three years to the day since the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris. We should not and dare not forget...] RT

Today's poem was written several years ago. Tragically, it will resonate today with believers in the Freedom of Speech worldwide.

What appears to have been yet another barbaric act of terrorism in Paris on staff of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing and injuring a number of people, including two police officers, is a terrifying reminder of the times in which we live. There is NO excuse for it whatever.

The killers were reportedly heard shouting what translates as ‘We have avenged the prophet’; a prophet who would have been appalled to have His name so abused.

Humour, especially satire, will always be controversial, but should never be allowed to fall victim to either political correctness or any socio-cultural-religious persuasion. It is one of the most effective Weapons of Peace by which various elements of society can be freely criticised. The keyword here, of course, is ‘freely’. All of us - especially writers and journalists - must feel free to criticise wherever and whenever they feel criticism is justified. Others, of course, must be similarly free to agree or disagree.

Any attack on Free Speech is an attack on us all. We can but trust the perpetrators of this latest horrific event will be tracked down and brought to justice.

I love Paris and the French people. My thoughts and sympathies - as I imagine those of all my readers - are especially with the families and friends of those killed and injured in Paris earlier today. May they draw on the power of love to help them through the coming hours, days, months and years with the kind of strength and courage that epitomises the very best of human nature.

Where certain elements of any society are inclined (as are all of us, up to a point) to take its beliefs as 'written on tablets of stone' these are - and always will be - a legitimate target for satire if only to encourage us be less inflexible and/or dogmatic. We need to regularly review our perspectives on life, including those on the society in which we live, and at the very least draw attention to any perceived failings. Isn't this what a free press - indeed, free speech - is all about? This, too, I fear has been increasingly under threat for some years, especially by a significant (but vocal) minority who so love to play this or that socio-cultural-religious card...

This poem is a villanelle.


Where society a hypocrite or liar,
politics the ultimate blame game,
find a sharp-tongued ally in satire

Invariably, no smoke without fire,
(point the finger, give it a name)
where society a hypocrite and liar

Global warming, threat more dire
for all those repudiating the same;
find a sharp-tongued ally in satire

World leaders negotiating its mire
(power among the perks of fame)
where society a hypocrite and liar

Religion taking AIDS toll higher,
its rhetoric loud, reasoning lame,
find a sharp-tongued ally in satire

Drugs-arms dealers loath to retire,
(Greed, the name of the game);
where society a hypocrite and liar,
find a sharp-tongued ally in satire

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010; 2017

[Note, written in 2009, an earlier version of this poem first appeared in Tracking the Torchbearer, Assembly Books, 2012; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Love, a Sense of Immortality

[Update June 24th 2018: Two friends of mine, Jim and Amy, are getting married in Cambridge today. Sadly, I am not well enough to go so they asked if this poem could be read during the service as then I would be there in spirit. It was a lovely thought and I was thrilled to agree without even having to think about it, especially as it will be read by the bridegroom's mother, an old friend from my student days back in the early 1970's who I know will read it well, I hope you will all join with me in wishing Jim and Amy a long and happy life together as man and wife.]


Not only is love is much the same the world over, but it is nearly always the case that anyone who comes between two lovers has either a bigoted axe to grind against one or both of them or is simply a socio-cultural-religious anachronism in this crazy, mixed-up, 21st century of ours.


I have greeted chimes of midnight,
lain beside you at the toll for one,
where half-dreams flow into starlight
nurturing a life force barely begun

I have heard the clock ticking over
for the passing of happy hours
nor shall, when it stops, run for cover,
but embrace a time forever ours

I have heard sweet songs at sunrise,
watched the last stars slip away,
the dawn of time in Love's bright eyes
promising (another) beautiful day

Where nature pauses as days grow cold,
lovers dream on beyond a growing old

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2018

[This poem has been slightly revised from the original as it first appeared under the title 'The Night Watch' in Accomplices to Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007.]